Jul 092017

This clip is from this morning’s interview of Sir Vince Cable on the Andrew Marr Show. His remarks were analysed on BBC News, in The Guardian and in The Independent. As the BBC put it, he said:

“I’m beginning to think that Brexit may never happen.

“The problems are so enormous, the divisions within the two major parties are so enormous. I can see a scenario in which this doesn’t happen.”

MPs are set to vote on the Repeal Bill, a key piece of Brexit legislation, in the autumn. Sir Vince has said he wants to form a cross-party coalition including like-minded Tory and Labour MPs to oppose Britain’s exit from the single market – the official policy of both the Conservative and Labour parties.

Tony Nog has explained in a thread entitled “Stopping #Brexit one step at a time” what I had been thinking of setting out in this blog post. Here’s what he said:

Potentially, change is in the air – Hard Brexit is dead and Brexit itself is on the ropes. But finishing it off is a process, not a single event.

At the moment the talk is around “but how can we stop Brexit?” “What about the vote?” “We can’t ignore the referendum” “Do we have a 2nd Ref?” “Do we need another GE?” “how will it happen?”

This is putting IMHO the cart before the horse. Yes,a democratic event will be needed to stop Brexit–a 2nd Ref, a vote in Parliament, a GE, … .

There are arguments for & against each option, but the exact answer doesn’t matter right now – the end is not as important as the start. No “stop Brexit” democratic event can occur until the public definitively turns against Brexit in a way that Cons/Lab can’t ignore.

That is starting, that’s what needs to be encouraged. Once Brexit is seen clearly and transparently for what it is by the public, the democratic “stop Brexit” event, whichever one it is, will be forced into existence – it’ll be political suicide to prevent it.

We went from “Brexit is great” very quickly into “Brexit is inevitable”. Now we’re onto “without Brexit there’ll be riots”. This argument is self-evidently ridiculous – it says the UK is subject to the rule of the mob. That’s indefensible for any Government.

The fact is: Brexit is misguided & self harming. This is true whether 52% or 92% voted for it. Support can only shrink, not grow. There is no good Brexit news that will outweigh the bad, no “silver lining” and as negotiations start no hiding place for David Davis.

And the fact is a large part of the country is, frankly, fickle. We want a great NHS, but we don’t want to pay for it. Opinion polls shifted hugely in the last GE, by 15 points or more in a few weeks – in large part because of Remain concerns.

And the UK simply will not want to pay for Brexit, they didn’t even want to see a minor NI rise for the self employed. So now “Brexit might not happen” is being whispered. The more it’s said, the more real a possibility it becomes.

Panic we’re seeing from Brexiteers now is because the only card left was “will of the people/Brexit is done”–there’s no other arguments. To stop Brexit, all that’s needed is to demonstrate it’s not unstoppable or inevitable. A50 can be reversed, the EU will welcome us back.

Nothing in a democracy is set in stone, we can always take a 2nd look at anything, that’s the nature of it. And national interest matters.

In time many may say “actually, why ARE we doing this” & as the reality of the impacts sink in they may say “No, I don’t want to”. 54% are now saying they would have voted remain, in time 64% could say “why are we continuing this – it makes no sense”.

So to conclude this overlong thread – The way to beat Brexit is not to worry about a 2nd ref, a new GE or any backlash – not yet. It’s simply to say “we don’t have to do this, it’s not even close to being inevitable and we shouldn’t do it, and here’s why”.

PS – Sorry, some people are seeing this thread as advocating “let brexit fizzle out” Far from it – I’m suggesting increase the pressure. Point out every day that Brexit is foolish & can be stopped & don’t get distracted with the “how”, the possibility is what matters now.

So far, all the advantages claimed for Brexit before the Referendum have proved to be illusory. The Confederation of British Industry has concluded that the UK Government has ‘no clear plan’ for BrexitThe Cabinet looks set to split over Brexit. And Chuka Umunna’s amendment to the Queen’s Speech exposed the divisions within the Labour party on Brexit.

But what about the German car industry which was going to convince the EU27 to go easy on the UK in the negotiations to maintain their exports to the UK? Apparently, that’s not going to happen either.

Oh, and after Theresa May referred to ‘citizens of nowhere’ at last year’s Tory party conference, Vince Cable observed that that particular phrase was ‘quite evil‘ and ‘could have been taken out of [Adolf Hitler’s] Mein Kampf‘. This morning, he corrected his reference to ‘rootless cosmopolitans’ (as a euphemism for Jews) as being from Stalin. He had compared Theresa May to the wrong murderous dictator.

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